New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's appeal of his suspension by the NFL for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal was denied Wednesday, meaning he will miss the first four games of the 2016 regular season.
Darren Heitner of Forbes produced the official document turning down Brady's request for a rehearing:
The NFL Players Association later released a statement on the decision, via Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal:
ESPN's Andrew Brandt believed the writing was on the wall prior to Wednesday's revelation because of the manner in which the court handled the proceedings:
While the decision seemingly sealed Brady's fate, he does have one final option before his suspension is set in stone, per Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated:
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that while there "is no firm decision," the expectation is that Brady will attempt to take his case in front of the Supreme Court. Albert Breer of The MMQB noted that Brady has 90 days to file his appeal to the court, adding that "if he waits, good chance SCOTUS [doesn't] decide whether to hear it [until] '17."
The league initially suspended the 11-time Pro Bowler for the first four games of the 2015 campaign, but U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overturned the ban prior to the start of the season.
Earlier this year, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determined that the suspension should stand for 2016 since the player collectively bargained for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to have full disciplinary power.
With Brady almost certainly set to miss four games, the Pats could be in for a rocky start to the season, as their early schedule features two 2015 playoff teams and two divisional opponents, per ESPN.com's Field Yates:
Should the four-time Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL MVP be unavailable for the opening four games as expected, the Pats will likely be forced to turn to third-year man Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 2014 second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois is just 20-of-31 for 188 yards and one touchdown in limited regular-season action during his young career.
New England is stacked with high-quality skill players such as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis on offense, but Brady's presence is invaluable.
The last time he missed extended action was due to a knee injury in 2008, and that marked the only time in the past 13 seasons that the Pats missed the playoffs.
New England still boasts a strong all-around team and could bounce back upon Brady's return, even if it starts off slowly, but after seven consecutive AFC East titles, the Patriots may finally be in danger of falling to the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills or Miami Dolphins.
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